Honeybees are of huge economic importance, vital for the pollination of many fruit, vegetable and seed crops. Also a wide variety of important products are made from the honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly and propolis that bees produce.
Honeybees is considered as one of the most important pollinators for both wild and domestic plants. Honey bees visit more flowering plant species, including many native plants, than any other bee. Honeybees are crucial for agriculture in many countries because they pollinate a wide range of cultivated food plants.
Pollination is when pollen grains are transferred from one plant to another, to fertilise the ovaries of flowers.
Honey has been harvested as a food by humans since prehistoric times. It is used as it is or as an ingredient in meals, baking and drinks. Honey contains a lot of sugar and should therefore not be eaten in large quantities. Honey has been used a folk medicine for millennia. It is useful for soothing sore throats and suppressing the urge to cough.
It is a mild salve for treating skin conditions, burns, cuts and abrasions. Mainly due to it’s acidity honey is anti-bacterial. Manuka honey, a product from New Zealand, is particularly efficacious and in tests has proven to kill over 250 types of bacteria. It is an antioxidant and as such may help in the prevention of cancers and also reduce the ravages of the ageing process, although there is no concrete evidence to prove this. Honey naturally contains bacteria and yeasts/fungi.
This means that it may be unsafe for people with a weakened immune system.
Beeswax is a bi-product of the honey industry but is more useful and probably more important as a resource than honey. Beewax is flammable and has been used to make candles. It’s waxy properties make it a useful sealant from moisture. As a coating on leather or fabrics it keeps moisture out. As a salve/moisturiser on skin, leather or wood it helps keep moisture in. It also acts as a sealant to prevent air and moisture from metal tools. It is not toxic and edible (albeit indigestible), so it also works as a seal on cheeses and preserves. It is also a good lubricant. A nail or wood screw will be easier to insert if they are coated with beeswax. Likewise thread is often waxed to make it easier to sew. A sticking drawer or cupboard door can be fixed with a little beeswax.
Propolis is called as a resinous material that bees use to seal small cracks and gaps in the hive. It is made when bees collect resin from trees etc. and mix it with a little bit of honey. Just like beeswax, propolis has been found to offer numerous health benefits. In ancient cultures, propolis was often used for minor wounds.
Bee pollen are pollen balls that are collected and stored by bees as a food source for the bees. Likewise is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Royal jelly is a milky secretion which is produced by worker honey bees. It consists of water, proteins, sugars, fats, vitamins, mineral salts, and amino acids. Its composition varies depending on the climatic conditions as well as geography. It is used for asthma, hay fever, liver disease, pancreatitis, sleep troubles (insomnia), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), stomach ulcers, kidney disease, bone fractures, menopausal symptoms, skin disorders, and high cholesterol. It is also used as a health tonic, for fighting the effects of aging, and for boosting the immune system.
Bee Venom is produced by worker female bees to defend themselves and their colony. People use bee venom to treat over 40 illnesses, including warts, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.